Recently, I moved from Longboat Key, my home for the past 12 years, to mainland Sarasota. (Longboaters, we still have our eyes on you. My parents and Observer Media Group founders Matt and Lisa Walsh are still residents on Longboat Key, and my son, Rhys Parry, and I will be marching in the annual Fourth of July Freedom Fest parade — one of my favorite events of the year.) When moving, you unearth a lot of stuff. All of you snowbirds and new transplants are surely familiar with this phenomenon.
While trying to pare down items, I took a trip down memory lane going through boxes of keepsakes from my childhood. In one of those boxes, I found my first-place plaque from the Pinellas County Science Fair.
In sixth grade, at Southside Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg, I won first place for my project that was based on whether oil-based or soy-based newspaper ink was better for the environment. Conclusion: Soy-based ink was better because it was more soluble.
The methodology used to come to this conclusion included interviews with the pressmen at the then St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and a series of experiments based on the ink left on your fingers after reading a newspaper.
At the time, the Tampa Tribune was still using oil-based ink, while the St. Petersburg Times had recently switched to soy-based ink. My experiments thumbing through both newspapers and swiping fingers on cotton swabs concluded that the soy-based ink used by the St. Petersburg Times left less residue on your fingertips.
Those experiments also resulted in the first time I used a curse word in front of my mother, but that is a whopper of a story for another time.
Years later, ink-stained fingertips switched from an experiment to more of a nuisance during my first official job at the Longboat Observer. I was one of the office janitors, earning my weekly allowance. Every week, there were black ink fingerprints all over the door knobs and walls. Still to this day, at our current headquarters on the east end of Main Street in downtown Sarasota, you can find me cleaning ink-fingerprints off our doors with a trusty bottle of Windex from time to time.
So, much to my delight, and never in that 12-year-old’s wildest dreams, I’m happy to introduce a way to read our printed papers each week without getting ink on your fingers.
Welcome to your new e-Newspaper app — Your Observer.
The Your Observer e-Newspaper app is available in both the Apple App store and Google Play, free to download. Now our hyperlocal news and information is available to you, at your fingertips, anywhere in the world in an easy-to-use digital format on your desktop, tablet or mobile phone.
Each week, the printed version of our papers will be available to you in a new way. Flip through the pages on your favorite device like you would the printed pages. Pinch and grab the pages to zoom in and out.
Tap on headlines to view a mobile-friendly reading experience and jump to pages with a tap of the finger. Tap a photo to scroll through an entire picture gallery or view a video.
While you’re driving your morning or evening commute from work, you can have an article read to you. Share articles easily and have them translated into 25 different languages.
Interested in a service or product advertised by one of our partners? Tap on the phone number and call directly from the app or be linked to their website. Download the digital edition and save articles to read offline. Print articles and crossword puzzles anytime.
People may say that print is dead or antiquated. Let us be clear: Print is not going away. The e-Newspaper app is a new way to read print, digitally. It’s also one of the ways we are staying true to our vision: innovate and elevate.
Ever since the rise of the internet in the late ’90s, the print media businesses have been constantly innovating with their online offerings and revolutionizing their business models. This new e-Newspaper app is the latest iteration.
To ensure our news and information is up-to-date and provided to you in every way you consume news, we utilize more than 30 different vendors and software providers, giving us the technology to print our papers and provide news online 24 hours, seven days a week. In fact, our IT partner, Thrive, has told us that we are one of their most complicated clients with the number of different systems we utilize to get news and information out to you every day.
So while we may be complicated internally, we want to offer you the easiest way to access our news with our new e-Newspaper app.
Our app is free to download, and for the first month we’re offering access for only 99 cents. After that, you can subscribe to our app for $5 per month, or $50 per year.
Meantime, our printed editions will remain free via home and commercial delivery, and our content on YourObserver.com will remain free.
If you opt for the Your Observer e-Newspaper app, you should consider going one step further and becoming an Observer Newsie. That’s our membership program, which has grown to nearly 500 members.
For an annual membership of $65, Newsies receive access to the Your Observer e-Newspaper app and invitations to members-only events. In fact, on Thursday, April 20, our Newsies will participate in a “Wine Walk” at The Bay with AG Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble and outgoing CEO of The Bay Conservancy.
This has been a long journey — going from ink-stained fingers to creating our digital editions that will read our stories to you or translate them into multiple languages.
While I will always have ink in my blood, I am excited that with our new Your Observer e-Newspaper app, there won’t be as much of it on my fingers. I hope you download it and give it a try. I’d love to hear what you think.